A relaxing morning fooled many of the PWA’s sail spinning maestros into thinking the competition would be on hold for the entire day. However, the wind gods blessed the sailors by turning the fans on in Las Cucharas bay bang on one o’clock, creating a freestyle haven for those that had entered.
Fifteen to twenty knot winds meant that sub 5.0m sails and 90-100l boards were the pick of the day. Unfortunately, late in the afternoon a competing breeze began to push back the trades, and at six in the evening the competition had to be postponed for another day. The men’s fleet battled their way through to the semi-finals where Canadian Philip Soltysiak (Starboard, Dakine) will meet the boy from Bonaire Kiri Thode (Starboard, Gaastra). And, born and bred styler Tonky Frans (F2, Gaastra) will go head to head with the 2009 World Champion Jose ‘Gollito’ Estredo (Fanatic, North) to decide who heads in to the winner’s, and losers’s finals. In the women’s fleet, they flipped and spun their way a little bit further with the unstoppable Sarah-Quita Offringa (Starboard, Vandal) left waiting to take on Yolanda Freites De Brendt (Fanatic, North) in the winner’s final.
When Bjorn Saragoza (Starboard, Hot Sails) leapt onto the water it was hard to look anywhere else. As an unranked rider he had to hit it hard from the very first heat if he wanted to make his mark. He exploded into action, immediately out performing his first victim, which left many on the beach wandering quite what would happen next. Mainly because during his second heat he was up against fellow Bonairean, and current world tour leader, Taty Frans (Starboard, MauiSails, Mystic)…
Being put in a heat against the current world number one ranked sailor is tough, but when he’s also one of your idols, and he’s taught you everything you know, it makes it even more difficult. Saragoza didn’t seem too fazed by this and blew Frans out of the water causing a shock exit for the wannabe world champion!
Saragoza then went on to destroy the Dutch diablo master, Davy Scheffers (Tabou, Gaastra). Surely his rampage through the fleet could never end?
Lifetime Achievement Award
Soltysiak is pretty much a household name amongst the freestyle fleet, but rarely do we see him taking down the big guns at the highest profile events around the world. Today however, was very different. Firstly the unranked Saragoza had just styled his way past a world leader, and thus become big time. But secondly, and perhaps more importantly, because Soltysiak matched Saragoza and some, landing him a place in the semi-final. Soltysiak literally sailed the heat of his life, landing moves he’d only just learnt, and some, including a triple flaka, that he’d only ever landed once before in his life!
Salty Words Of Joy
“I’m so happy, I had a really good first heat against Adrien Bosson (Fanatic, North). It filled me with confidence for my next heat, which I knew would be quite tough against local boy Antxon Otaegui (JP, NeilPryde, MFC). Last year he finished third here, but I don’t think the conditions were quite right for him - he prefers the jumping. I decided to go for some of the new sliding moves that I’ve been working on all winter and it clearly paid off. But, the worst (or best) was still to come. I saw Saragoza sail in some of his early heats and when I realised I was up against him, I was like ‘man this going to be tough’. But, I kind of went with the flow and everything came together. I landed pretty much every move I’ve ever done. I sailed the best I possibly could in that heat! I hope we get some wind tomorrow because I really want to go windsurfing, I’ll try to have fun, and carry on doing the best I can.”
Perfect tens from the judges saw Estredo style his way through his heats with ease to claim his place in the finals. Amongst other things, arched back culos, and his new perfectly executed back to sail bob blew his competitors away. If Estredo continues to sail the way he did today we could see the world champion bouncing back to where he belongs - at the top of the podium.
Kiri On Fire
It would be a sin not to mention Thode after his performance today. If the wind had stuck around long enough for the finals, he would no doubt have been a contender for the top spot. He fills his score sheet with the most technical tricks well before the final whistle blows, and continues to show off to the crowds afterwards. One day Thode will be a world champion.
Following an awesome performance against Junko Nagoshi (Tabou, Simmer, DaKine), De Brendt spun her way into the final where she’ll meet two times world champion Offringa. This is De Brendt’s chance to really shine, if she takes down Offringa, she could become a world champ, but even if she doesn’t, it’s an awesome achievement making it this far.
Move Of The Day
There were too many to count. The level has gone through the roof at this event. Budding freestylers should watch the videos and study every tiny detail. If we had to single just one out, it would have to be Estredo’s newest move, which not only is he the only person that can do them, but he also busts out perfect examples during his heats.
The forecast for tomorrow looks better than today, so hopefully we’ll see the conclusion of the first single elimination for both the men and women, and perhaps even make it through the double. Watch this space…